Monday, 30 November 2009

Back to Maargadum

The overnight pet-levelling did get interrupted fairly soon by a ks-er, but luckily I made one final check on ColonelScarlet's situation, and was able to get things going again, and things ran smoothly from then on, so that by coffee time today the horse had reached level 25. And the Colonel kept going, though the sight of a level 50 Pandora's Beast prowling not too far away led to a switch from the berserker and bandit territory down to the gnoll lancers.

After coffee I was able to fit in the second of Kaerella's pssp hours with the Orc Soldiers in Prokion Temple on Katar-4, and, without any interruptions, things went according to plan, with again 302 skill points earned, while going up just 3.52%; I must have managed to avoid attracting quite as many Orc Fighters as last time. There was just time after that for Kae to use up her current supply of tool aids doing some herb-gathering and stone-mining before lunch.

Kaerella did a little shopping after lunch; after MistressDomino had sold so many heaven stones, she had a useful amount of cash, so buying a +15 level 37 or level 41 weapon seemed like a good idea. I eventually found a level 41 crossbow for 150 million, which didn't seem unreasonable - so EisenherZ is now 150 million richer, less Roy's 5% commission. RedRyder headlined the main afternoon session, though, in the same room as before, and got 358 skill points again, so that now both weaponsmithing and armorsmithing just need their last two levels. For some reason this time she only added 68.67% experience, along with 617 pet points. The pet point numbers for her are lower than normal, as the mummies are blue-named, and thus don't give pet experience; the orc soldiers are okay, though.

Red was still stuck in the imaginary party from yesterday, and thus couldn't join a new solo party - with any luck the regular scheduled maintenance ought to reset that, until the next time... but one of the recent maintenances, and patches, was meant to solve party problems. And meant to solve the "moving in Quiz room" thing too, come to that.

There was time for RedRyder to do the necessary 23 suicide runs in Prokion Temple to get her experience down to 0% again, so she was ready for her next adventure. And then it was time for the traditional food break.

The plan had been to link up with Zenderfly, with Merun around as well no doubt, for a Tomb teaming, but although ColonelScarlet was online all evening, I never heard anything. Kaerella was online up until about 5:30, UK time, mainly chatting with HarD and doing some mining, and then SirDarth, still on Cariae but this time on Cariae-1 for Elizabeth's Enhancement, made a short trip to Prokion Temple, just as an experiment. At level 34, focussing on the Orc Axemen rather than the still-green Orc Sergeants, his brief session only added 0.42% experience, but also brought in 22 skill points. A level 29 knight called xxXRenosXxx tried to persuade Darth to assist him with getting a blue name, but as Darth is white-named now, since he no longer pet-levels, there wasn't really anything I could do in the time available.

All this week the series of "Epic Events" with [GM]Beatrice is being reprised, and chapter one, "The Seeds of Eres", taking place in Maargadum Jail, was this evening, starting at six o'clock with the Auzura server - so Rage, my level 72 rogue, signed in, and took the provided teleporter there. Although a lot of the monsters were fifty levels or so higher than Rage, I took things steadily - there seemed to be different spawnings from the first time around, and less of the pesky cave spirits, and Rage's Snare skill came in useful many times, when it worked.

Rage did die once, entering the end-boss room - one got teleported right into the thick of the action, and it just wasn't possible to get clear. Still, a swift run back, with a new resurrection scroll applied, meant that Rage was in at the finish. Unfortunately, it was only after she'd left, going back upstairs, that any goodies were spawned. All the more for the people who waited around... still, Rage did get an armour drop on the way down, a piece of knight armour at about level 106 I think, as well as the occasional bit of gold.

The Katar event started at seven, and my level 25 rogue RedRyder didn't have any better luck with spawned rewards. She had gained over 20% experience on the way down, fighting pretty similarly to Rage, though for her the local Jail monsters were dangerous too. This time the loot was spawned too early, rather than too late, and brought massive lag which many people were complaining about. There were still a number of boss monsters around - RedRyder made an attempt to get to the loot, and had only picked up three of the almost-worthless MP and HP recovery pots when something killed her. Getting back down proved to be a bit of a problem, as the staircase that leads to the teleport point from level one to level two was choked with dire spike canines. Red got killed a number of times by them, but hey, that just means less suicide runs in Prokion Temple next time. She did get back down to the end room eventually, but by then all the action, and loot picking-up, was over.

Barbarienne, my level 101 archer, was my choice for the Cariae event, starting at eight, and things went pretty well, without any use of resurrection scrolls. About halfway down I got recruited into a party by xxXRenosXxx himself. There weren't really any dangerous points for Barb; it helped that I knew what to expect, I guess, and wasn't in the forefront of the tide of players sweeping forward, though there was plenty of action all the same. Still, with Barb's level, and the number of lower-level people in the party, only 0.04% experience got added.

The final room seemed easier this time, it helps if the monsters just happen not to spawn quite as close to the entrance point I guess, and Barb's armour is presumably a bit better than Rage's. This time [GM]Beatrice and the other GMs around managed to get the spawning of the Hands just right, with the monsters defeated, and, carefully zoomed in and looking at the floor to reduce the lag, Barbarienne at least was able to pick up some useful goodies.

When I was preparing to log out afterwards, xxXRenosXxx was trying to persuade me to power-level him, but really, taking him from level 29 would deprive him of the chance to stock up on skill points in Prokion Temple, and it's an opportunity that only comes once. Not to mention that I'm not very good at that sort of power-levelling. Would it even be possible? Most such schemes need the lower-level person to deliver the killing blow, and I can't see a level 29 knight doing much harm to any high-level monster.

The event rolled on to the Sarissa server at nine. I don't have any suitable characters to visit Maargadum Jail there - so what I did for my last half hour was log in my local Kaerella, and get her up from level 2 to level 7, helped along of course by Elizabeth's Enhancement. But I doubt if I'll have the time or inclination to spend too much time over there. I have two level ten characters on Hatzring; a new server, Tairen, is due to start soon, but I probably won't do much over there, beyond reserving my favourite names.

Throughout all the adventuring ColonelScarlet had been hard at work, and the pale blue horse he is training added two more levels, getting comfortably into level 27 before the close of play. It's probably time the modem and computer had a rest overnight, I guess, but I'm sure the Colonel will be back in action tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Kae's Experiment

ColonelScarlet was busy overnight on the pet-levelling front; he did lose an hour or to to a ks-ing, but good progress was made, which continued through the morning.

After coffee RedRyder went off to Prokion Temple on Katar-1, and got the skill points for a few more special skills - that final level of advanced mining, and a few lower levels of the next skills. There was time to set MistressDomino up in merchant mode at lunchtime, selling the last of Kaerella's supply of heaven stones, put back up to 1,950,000 each; that was about all she sold, other than the three item drop boosters I'd recently obtained. Those seem to sell okay at almost a million each, generally to high-level farmers on either raid bosses or Dark Harpies and so on, a 30% increased chance of getting a good drop isn't worth that kind of money if one is fighting lower types.

The afternoon session saw Kaerella head to Prokion Temple - on Katar-4, as Elizabeth's Enhancement isn't really much use for her at present, since, while it would double the skill experience gain, it would also double the experience, too. I assume it doesn't "stack" with a pssp's 200% extra skill exp.

This time, as an experiment, I went for the level 23 Orc Soldiers close to my favourite back room; I had to fight a few of the level 25 Orc Fighters too, as they are protective of nearby Soldiers, but tried to keep them to a minimum. Using a pssp (and with her experience gain 50% frozen by her guild), while Kaerella is in level 29 Orc Fighters give 3594 experience and 9900 skill exp, so a ratio of 2.75 to 1 isn't bad - but Orc Soldiers give just 531 experience and 6600 skill exp, which is a ratio of 12.43 to 1, which would be hard to beat.

During the pssp's hour Kaerella added 302 skill points, while going up just 3.85% - so Kae could fit in another fourteen sessions like that before reaching level 30. That's a lot of pssps, but if they only cost as much as around four individual skill point boosters, they do seem worth using.

Yesterday I'd bought a pair of level 30 +10 gloves for RedRyder, which she can wear now; I already had a spare +10 leggings, and looking through Trading Agent Roy's items for sale I found boots and shirt, +10, being sold by someone called lina for just a million each. Adding headgear for two million, the seller being one TheMeater, I managed to assemble a full 30/32 +10 armour set for Red rather cheaply. When Kaerella gets to level 31 and is given her freebie set, a set can be transferred over to MistressDomino.

There was time for RedRyder to lose her experience gain again, with one more trip into Prokion Temple's foundations, and some more "double death" strangeness - but the job got done, and as usual a fair amount of abandoned loot got picked up while Red was running about.

After the early evening food break, I was preparing to send Red back out on Katar-1 to earn some more skill points when a disconnection came up; ColonelScarlet on Katar-4 was unaffected, and kept working, with his horse on level 21 by then, despite some ks-ing a little earlier by a knight called huxy.

Red did go to Prokion Temple, but somehow the solo party she was in suddenly vanished, and she lost the "solo boost" - and trying to join another party was foiled as I was "already in" one, allegedly. Logging out or even restarting didn't cure this - I moved briefly to Katar-2, and was okay there, but once I moved back to Katar-1, to get the buff from Elizabeth, I was back in that imaginary party again. So, I was stuck with it.

Anyway, RedRyder settled in with the Mummies and the Orc Soldiers in what has become her own favourite room, and kept bashing away. I got a bit distracted by the forum shoutbox, and my poor hatchling suffered a bit, getting nibbled. The shoutbox was a long time without any gamesage, so I ended up, as KaerellaBlaise, being the one saying when the Quiz would be, and indeed giving instructions on how to move around in the Quiz room, which I carefully copied and pasted, and reused quite often, since the bug in there, which we had been assured was cured, was still in force - nobody could move around by our usual clicking method, so WASD had to be used, and to enable that one has to go into "options" and tick "enter chat", then confirm, and then just point one's character in the right direction and press the "W" key.

Red got a good stock of skill points - 358 of them, for which she went up 91.74%, plus 704 pet points. That had been my target, when I saw I was approaching 300; it allowed her, once back in town, to get the first seven levels of Armorsmithing. The last two levels that Red can get (there are more when she reaches 32) will need another 332 skill points.

The time for the Quiz approached, so MistressDomino replaced ColonelScarlet on the older computer, and Kaerella came onto the newer one. I blame the distraction of being active on the shoutbox, as well as having to use the WASD keys (or, specifically, the W key) to move around, but I absent-mindedly got Dratan and Juno confused as Roy and Siban's location, so both MD and Kae ended up respawning back in Randol after only a few questions; the doors to the Quiz were locked, so we couldn't get back in.

So, there was plenty of time for RedRyder to return to Prokion Temple, and get rid of that 91.74% experience by running around and getting killed 31 times. After that, well, it was time for MD and Kae to try again.

Luckily by this time the gamesage irene_tas had arrived to take control of the shoutbox, so I was able to concentrate more on the Quiz, and luckily there weren't any of the really difficult questions this time through, so MistressDomino and Kaerella both got all their goodies. Kae traded her heaven stones and moonstones across to MD, along with some more quality stones and green herb leaves she'd gathered, and got some tool aids in return.

Sadly, the second quiz starting at 9:30pm, UK time, meant that the various Zombie Invasions had had to be put back, so I had to pass on those this week. Going by recent experience, the rewards wouldn't have been all that big, let's hope that enough people were able to turn up to save the plucky inhabitants of Berbank Mill from a deadful fate.

So, ColonelScarlet logged back on, and headed back to the berserkers and bandits, after spending the latest couple of the pale blue horse's stat points on more Armour Increase. When last seen, the horse was moving steadily through level 22, so there is still rather a long way to go.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Sands of the Desert

ColonelScarlet logged in at breakfast time. His pale blue pony was already halfway through level 6, so a morning with a friendly Bandit moved things on nicely, so that by the time lunch was due, level 10 had been reached.

Kaerella went out for a "power hour" after coffee, in as usual the back room in Prokion Temple on Katar-4; it was time to use a pssp, and a blue-and-white psp as well, so that, now that Kae was level 29, each Orc Sergeant killed would give 1.925 skill points - or 7.7 of them if I used a skill point booster. I had 114 of those left, and picked up another along the way from a Hand of the Guard, so killing 115 Orc Sergeants while using an spb brought in 885.5 skill points - and killing Orc Axemen (without using an spb) brought in another 1.54 skill points per kill. Being able to use the level 33 +15 bow meant that the killing was rather quicker than before, so that by the end of the hour a total of 37.48% experience had been gained, and 1314 skill points, plus 1057 pet points. If I'd not used the skill point boosters, the number of skill points gained would still have been a very respectable 650, or I think 557 without the stacking 50% extra skill exp gain from the platinum skill pill.

Of course, speed isn't everything - as one wants to get as many skill points as possible before reaching a level at which Prokion Temple is no longer worth going to, the ratio of skill exp to experience is also rather important. Those 115 level 29 Orc Sergeant deaths had a ratio of 8.12 to 1, while each of the level 27 Orc Axemen killed without an spb had a ratio of 2.67 to 1 - rather better than a Sergeant without an spb, where the figure was 2.03. Of course, if one goes for Orcs a few levels lower, the figures become more interesting; a level 25 Orc Fighter would give 3.21, while a level 23 Orc Soldier would give 14.50, assuming that one was still using the pssp and psp, or just 4.14 without any kind of boost.

So, unless I get the chance to buy any more skill point boosters in a three-for-one deal in the very near future, I think that the level 23 Orc Soldiers may take a few hours of Kaerella's time.

After lunch it was RedRyder's turn to grind some skill points, though first there was the little matter of getting rid of the percentage of experience she already had in level 25 - which started at 49.67%, but went up to 86.73% after finishing a few quests. So, running to her death in Prokion Temple was what was needed, 29 times, which took a while, particularly as twice she respawned in the foundations of the Temple rather than the starting hallway, and had to return to town as the only way, other than relogging, to get out of there.

The strange "death bug" is still in operation sometimes. Red dies, I click on the pop-up window to respawn rather than wait 5 minutes, and Red is standing in the Temple's hallway. If there are other people and the teleporter visible, all is well, but if I have the place to myself, the bug has struck again. If I don't move, then whatever killed me attacks some more, even though we are in theory in entirely different rooms, and given a few tries kills me again. If I do move, I am instantaneously back in the room I died in, and being attacked. I have incurred the 3% experience death penalty, which is fine as that was what I was trying to do - in fact I've incurred it twice in quick succession. That is okay for me, though one can imagine circumstances in which an unwanted death, and death penalty, became doubled.

Dying removes Elizabeth's Enhancement, so a trip back to Randol was needed once Red was down to 0% - and then, it was time to go back to the Temple, and settle down in that room alongside my back room, fighting Orc Soldiers and Mummies. The session got me up to 68.82% again, plus 497 pet points (the Mummies are blue-named now, so don't give pet experience), and the full 272 skill points that RedRyder needed to maximise all her general and passive skills, up to level 25. After spending all the sp, it was time for 23 more death runs, including another visit to the foundations - and then there was time for another shorter session, bringing in 143 skill points, which started Red on getting all her "special" crafting, gathering and manufacturing skills; all but the final level of advanced mining, plus basic herbalism.

Zenderfly had got in touch; she had got almost all the gold she needed to repay my loan, but it didn't seem worth the bother of a part payment, best to do it all in one go. She suggested that we could do another power-levelling session for her Night Shadow Merun in the evening, this time going all the way to the Commanders in the grave room, rather than stopping off at the Anubis Spear Men. Fine with me, as long as it was Zen making the run there, rather than Barbarienne! I was a little worried that the place might be a bit too busy on a Saturday, but Zen said she'd scout it out, and report the situation at 5:30, UK time, after my traditional food break.

I logged ColonelScarlet out for a while; he had got the pony up seven more levels, to 13, during the day, which was steady progress. Barbarienne had just about filled her inventory, so I was busy for the ten minutes before 5:30 moving loot items across from Barb to MistressDomina, my merchant character on the Cariae server. And then Zen reported that all the useful spots in the Tomb were taken, and we both simultaneously suggested that we should try again on Monday.

So, ColonelScarlet logged back in, and went off to Bandit country, and RedRyder made the trip out to get her experience back down to 0% again. I had wondered about playing Kaerella, but she does rather need specific rooms in Prokion, and it being Saturday, there might well be a lot of competition for them. So, for a change of scenery, I decided to play, er...well, Kaerella, actually...

By that I mean my original Kae, the Cariae cleric slowly working her way through level 49. Thank goodness for the "Elizabuff", at least. The evening session was spent fighting giants, and a few akane giants at the lower end of the path. The only excitement was when Kamira arrived, but although I mentioned it on the forum shoutbox, things were pretty quiet there and nobody responded. She left after a while, and found someone else to bother.

So, Kaerella added 1438 pet points for SirFrancis, went up by 17.28%, and earned 107 skill points, so that was a pretty solid session - I see her previous one was 1502, 17.09%, and 107, so Kae is being fairly consistent. She probably fought a few more akane giants this time, which are a level higher than the regular kind and thus give slightly more experience per kill but less skill exp.

After that, which was a bit less adventurous than fighting the Sphinx Commanders in the Tomb with Zenderfly, it was time to log out, leaving ColonelScarlet still working away. With any luck the pony will reach level 16 before the older computer gets switched off, and miraculously grow to horse size. There's still a fair way to go before MistressDomino gets the mount she's expecting, though.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Best-Laid Plans

ColonelScarlet lost a couple of hours to a ks-ing in his attempt at an overnight pet-levelling stint - by that I mean that some little dear came along and deliberately killed the bandit he was fighting, leaving him just standing there doing nothing. He had a disconnection while he was standing around, which may have saved us from using a quality stone or two, but I got him back in action later, so that the horse did reach level 36 before breakfast.

I had to be on the alert for a phone call for much of the day, so it didn't seem sensible to send Kaerella to Katar-4's Prokion Temple to use an hour's pssp, if perhaps five or ten minutes of it could be wasted. So instead after coffee RedRyder, my rogue, went to the Katar-1 version, to take advantage of the "Elizabeth's Enhancement" buff - "elizabuff" for short?

Red went to the room she has been using recently, which has mummies and one orc soldier, and, equipping her dragon hatchling, settled in there. She levelled up from 23 to 24, so really could fight orc soldiers all the time, with the use of a supply of health potions - but the mummies remained green, and still give 5500 skill exp each with the "elizabuff" running, and a nicer ratio of skill exp to experience than the soldiers.

By the end of the morning session Red had added 64.15%, and 200 skill points, which she quickly spent back in Randol; 772 pet points got her hatchling into level 3, and its Sympathy topped 70%.

Over lunch MistressDomino managed to sell a couple of cheap accessories and some more heaven stones, the last of her stock, so Kaerella passed over some of hers, in exchange for the surplus gold; RedRyder passed over some items, though, checking out how the special rogue accessory Red has works, I discovered that it can't be traded, or even put into storage for transfer to a different character on the same account. It's unfortunate that MistressDomino reached level 20 before the new patch brought in such items.

The afternoon session was RedRyder's again, as I was liable to get interrupted a time or two; it ended a bit early, at 4:05, when Katar-1 had another disconnection. By then Red had added another 64.03%, 268 skill points, and 989 pet points, but was still 10% short of level 25. The inevitable "rollback" removed 3.22%, 14 skill points, and 46 pet points, however.

Zenderfly got in touch a few minutes before the end, asking if I had 170 million on Cariae that I could lend her for a day or two; ColonelScarlet logged out briefly while I checked, and I was able to report that Barbarienne over there had enough cash, so the loan was made, and the main Zenderfly character over there joined Norcaine for some reason. She can leave any time she wants since her witch character Damor is the guild master, and thus can kick her.

The evening started with Kaerella fitting in her "power hour" in Katar-4's Prokion Temple's back room. I'd only just started when a titan ran in and started fighting alongside me - he lasted maybe a minute before falling down dead. A rogue did run in, kill a couple of orcs, and run out again later, I think sometimes people assume the room has more than one exit. though if they notice their health is down to 10% that also would be a pretty good reason to leave in a hurry.

This time I didn't take any damage, but I didn't allow all five orc sergeants to keep hitting me all the time; I went mainly for the orc axemen, but killed sergeants too when necessary. Perhaps because the sergeants have more defence and take longer to kill, I only added 357 skill points during the hour, but 26.61% was just enough to get me into the next level, which was convenient (and 1116 pet points got my drake into level 25).

Getting to level 29 means that Kaerella is now able to use her level 33 +15 bow, which gives her a physical offence stat of 498 - rather better than the 311 she had with the level 29 +10 bow she was using up till now! Kae was able to get Collector Ryl to transform the old +10 bow into a rogue-type crossbow, which was later passed across to RedRyder. Just as Kae was ending her hour, ColonelScarlet got the pale blue horse to level 37, too, so back in town Kae exchanged her white horse for the pale blue one, and then the Colonel passed the white horse across to RedRyder.

Next came perhaps the lamest, most useless event for a while, which I shouldn't have got involved in. The announcement came up that [GM]OgreKing was "somewhere in Juno" offering people who found him some "awesome bargains", so off I rode, looking all round the map - and when I got back to town, they then said that he was actually on a different sub-server, Katar-3. So I changed across to that sub-server, and off I went again. I finally found him, he had just gone to the usual "Mad Monster Spawn" spot and set up in merchant mode there - and was surrounded by dozens of people already. When I finally managed to click on him, he just had a couple of things left. I decided I might as well buy three more platinum skill pills at 5 million each, though they didn't strike me as a huge bargain - but before I could complete the purchase he left merchant mode. After a couple of minutes or so he was in merchant mode again with new stocks, including skill point boosters at 475,000 gold each, or slightly over half what one might pay in town, but my attempt to get those failed too, I guess someone else must have taken the whole lot. Further attempts to click on him failed to bring up the merchant window - and with so many people around him, it took quite a few tries each time before I could actually click on the right person.

I got a disconnection, which I think was Ogre-induced; since the MMS spot was on my memory scroll it didn't take long to get back, but then I got a "send error report" game crash, which probably wasn't done on purpose...and when I got back, the GM had vanished, without saying anything, never to return. What a waste of time... the "GMs have added special bargain items to the merchant house" idea went a bit pear-shaped too, the increased interest meant that the lag was abominable, and the next page of items, or indeed the first page of them, took rather a long time to load.

Ah well, ColonelScarlet had a blue pan flute left, so talked to Lorraine and Jajan and got a brand-new pale blue pony, which he took out to the Gnoll Lancers, so that soon started levelling up. And RedRyder headed out to Prokion Temple, on Katar-1 again to make use of the "Elizabuff". Unfortunately, while there was a solo party listed, the game didn't seem to think it was actually available, so Red had to do without any solo party boost.

It didn't take too long, fighting Mummies and Orc Soldiers in a corridor room alongside my favourite back room, for Red to reach level 25, and equip her new crossbow, increasing her physical attack from 322 to 400, and by the end of the session I'd just managed to add all five bloodseals to it. The total experience gain was 63.07%, and that brought with it 222 skill points, getting Red's total up to 476 - all of which were quickly spent at the skills trainer back in Randol on the newly-available level 25 skills, and some earlier ones. 632 pet points were enough to get Red's dragon hatchling into level 5.

By my calculations RedRider needs another 272 skill points to get all her general and passive skills up to level 25 to their maximum levels. My intention would be to do with Red what I did with Kae, and have her learn the special skills as well, though this time I'll try to do this at level 25 rather than 27, thus allowing two more levels for actual after-the-max skill point gain. Red's ambitions as a character are less ambitious than Kae's, she really just wants to be a useful event-going fighter, so while pssps will be used, those oh-so-expensive skill point boosters won't be. Well, I suppose that individually they aren't too expensive, but when you have to use hundreds of the things, the cash starts to add up.

Aeria announced at ten, UK time, that yet another server maintenance was on its way, to start at midnight for us, or four in the afternoon on the US West Coast; this should fix that strange "fellowship" party bug, and ol' S1lent hopes that some other party changes will cut down on the random disconnections and "lock-ins" - so it seems worth doing, although it means no overnight levelling for the Colonel's new pony. Still, it ought to manage to get to level 6 before log-out time, which is a useful start. This horse will be for MistressDomino for sure, even though RedRyder dashed in, as rogues tend to do, and overtook her.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

A Thanksgiving Lock-In

I had been thinking that it was about time ColonelScarlet pet-levelled overnight, and had gone so far as to log him in over on the newer computer, but, switching off the older one I noticed that it had some Microsoft updates to install - and, sure enough, the more modern machine had some lurking in wait, too. Given that they tend to run out of patience and manners during the night and install themselves, complete with restarting the computer, it didn't seem worth trying for any more pet-levelling then, so both computers were powered down until the morning.

Still, the Colonel hurried down to the Berserkers and Bandits on Katar-4 before breakfast, and set to work continuing the pale blue horse's progress through level 34, which he did throughout the morning, and over lunch.

There was just time in the later part of the morning for Kaerella to fit in an hour's pssp-use in Prokion Temple on Katar-4, and as before I avoided the five Orc Sergeants completely, and just concentrated on the Orc Axemen. It was strange, while nothing about Kae's armour or accessories had changed, the Orcs were hitting harder today, and I had to use Self Heal quite frequently, or occasionally a small healing potion so as not to interrupt my attacks. Sometimes Prokion Temple does change like that, for no reason.

However, the change wasn't completely bad; as well as getting attacked more fiercely, I must have been attacking harder as well (or maybe it was defence rather than attack which had changed?), as Kae went up by 28.52% experience, and 429 skill points - for 11% more kills than yesterday. 1001 pet points were added as well, though there were times when Kae's poor drake was getting attacked so much that it had to be taken off.

ColonelScarlet did get ks'd once over lunchtime, but kept going after that, with the horse moving determinedly on into level 35. He was on Katar-4, so couldn't party with RedRyder in the afternoon, as she was on Katar-1 so that she could benefit from Elizabeth's experience and skill exp doubling buff. MistressDomino logged on for some merchant mode time, and managed to sell all 15 heaven stones at 1.85 million each fairly quickly, plus quality stones and green herb leaves at 3,500 gold each.

RedRyder had a good long productive afternoon session in Prokion Temple, moving from level 15 right on to level 22 - a gain of 639.02% experience, with a further 9.38% afterwards from quest rewards. 565 skill points were gained, and they all got spent back in Randol. Some of the new quests seem actually to be working now, and the Master Rogue skill trainer gave Red a very useful accessory, which, once identified using the magnifying glass he also supplied, was revealed to give 16 dexterity and add 168 to long range physical hit rate (so not so good if you opt to use daggers rather than a crossbow), 112 to close range evasion, and an increase to the chance of making a critical hit of 20. The downside is that it won't work after Red reaches level 35.

After the food break, Auzura was the first server to have a Thanksgiving Day Parade, since today is, for the USA, that particular holiday. While I did see [GM]Kali standing at the spawning area in town (and she was either wearing a "Scream" mask, or just isn't a morning, Pacific Time, kind of person), the Parade itself was led by [GM]Noboru, presumably brought in specially from some other Aeria game. Firecrackers and transformation scrolls were dropped; my level 67 archer on that server, Kaerella, managed to pick up a Dire Wolf scroll, and so prowled around for a while as an oversized wolf, but there were sasquatches, jaguars, and drakes too. The scroll didn't seem to last all that long, perhaps five minutes - something to bear in mind if I use a Dratan one, such as a sand golem or harpy, to try to get a character to the sphinx types or the entrance to the Tomb of Theos.

A "treasure hunt" event a day or two back had given out fox tails with a "999" marking, which could be exchanged at the Parade with a GM for unspecified goodies; I don't know what people got, though the only person to get vocal about it was a bit disappointed. After a finale letting off plenty of firecrackers, Kae logged out - and RedRyder logged back in. After checking around town, she headed for the north gate - only to find it blocked by endemic demons. I raised the alarm, and more qualified people rushed over to deal with them, and with some anubis spear men. I helped, and was able to use my new Snare skill, even though it was only level 3 at the time. One spear man did kill me, so it was lucky I'd spent all my skill points; I rushed back and helped finish him off, getting back more experience than I had lost.

I was slightly tempted to do what Kae had done and die multiple times in Prokion Temple to get back to 0% of that level, but instead decided to head back there just to level up a bit more, after buying some herb-gathering knives and mining hammers and using my supply of tool aids to stock up on green herb leaves and quality stones, as Red had finally got herself a hatchling. I wasn't back there all that long, I suppose, when I got disconnected, and ColonelScarlet too - I thought it was at this end, but when I got back, and found myself still in the same solo party, another member mentioned it had happened to him as well. Strangely when I got to Dratan, the party bars one normally sees on-screen reappeared (often disconnecting or crashing doesn't make one leave a party)... and then a minute later vanished again, replaced by the same people's names in a small box, with instead of "party" as the tag, "fellowship". And then came a pop-up that the fellowship was dispanding in 20 seconds, and the party was over.

The disconnection had rolled me back a bit, so that I had less quality stones, and still a couple of mining hammers and a tool aid in my inventory. That wasn't too bad, but three-quarters of an hour after that disconnection came another one, at 8:20 UK time, and this was the serious, "lock-in" type, where when you try to log back in you are told "the account is already logged in", and thus you can't do anything at all, at least with that account. It's lucky I had others to choose from! The shoutbox was soon telling us that it was being worked on, as more and more people reported the problem with Katar-1.

As I'd rather expected, to celebrate Thanksgiving in a suitably capitalistic way Aeria announced a 50% bonus sale of aeria points, so I was in line to top up my balance. As an extra bonus, if one spent at least 1000 ap during the event, there would be a special gift as well, of 300 item drop boosters, 20 tower boxes, 5 lucky spell books, and 50 damage boosters. I'd just about decided that I needed to buy some resurrection scrolls on Katar, so this was a good time to buy the "Best of Both Worlds" package from the in-game item mall, which had 15 of them. For not much more than the price of buying them individually, the package also has 3 each of the platinum super skill pills and the platinum blessed irises, and 75 each of the experience and skill point boosters, so is all useful stuff.

Katar's Thanksgiving Parade was on Katar-4, at 9:00pm UK time, and Kaerella was able to go along; [GM]Krash was in charge now, and seemed more generous with his firecrackers and transformation scrolls; I turned into a jaguar this time, and also later into a great lumbering sasquatch. It was fun - and afterwards Kae was able to trade some items across to MistressDomino, in exchange for her latest cash takings. And, to my relief, RedRyder was by then "unlocked" and able to log in, and move some loot across too - but she had been "rolled back" to before the start of her last trip to Prokion temple, she'd not even sold the loot from before, so that had to be done again.

There was just time to attend the Cariae-4 Parade as well, as Barbarienne for a change; this time Krash was assisted by Kali, and I transformed into a jaguar again, picking up a few spare scrolls for future use. Lots more firecrackers were let off, and, with Thanksgiving felicitations exchanged, it was time to log off, with MistressDomino back on Katar going into merchant mode again for a while, and ColonelScarlet back at work on his horse, which passed the two-thirds mark in level 35.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

RedRyder Goes Through the Levels

The main Mad Monster Spawns did have to be cancelled last night, I noticed, which must have been a bit annoying; the maintenance patch has apparently got rid of a few bugs, and also stopped those newly-liberated items from being traded once again, though there is a vague commitment to looking at the situation and perhaps making some of them officially trade-friendly.

RedRackham and ColonelScarlet were both able to start up their pet-levelling at breakfast time - and Red was able to log out just before coffee, with his task completed and the horse on level 37, ready for mounting. The Colonel continued his work on Katar, however, moving steadily through level 33.

Once RedRackham had logged off, MistressDomino was able to settle in for some merchanting in Katar-1's Randol, and, thanks to a couple of sales of a few heaven stones at 1.85 million each, plus item drop boosters at 950k, large attack potions at 450k, and even a moonstone box at 69.5k, she managed to take in over 27 million gold, restoring our fortunes on the Katar server. Before setting up, she found someone selling a +3 rogue level 25/27 armour set at just 20k per piece, and a level 25 +3 crossbow at 30k, so bought those, on the feeling that RedRyder would eventually be glad of them. And after the merchant stint, I noticed that LIVIA had put the price of her remaining pssps up to 3.5 million, so I was glad I'd bought as many as I could afford from her at 3.

The afternoon session didn't start very early, unless you count some afk mining, but it was long enough for Kaerella to spend another hour using a pssp in the Katar-4 Prokion Temple back room. Again I avoided killing any OrcSergeants, concentrating on the Orc Axemen and a lone Orc Soldier that was tempted into the room. 25.54% was the experience gain, along with 1045 pet points and 384 skill points, so there ought to be two more hour-long sessions in level 28.

For the evening, it seemed like a change of pace to work on my new Katar rogue, RedRyder, and by the time I had to log out, as usual for a Wednesday rather earlier than normal, she had moved up from level 7 to level 15. Kaerella had been enlisted as her guardian for the apprenticeship system, and ColonelScarlet, whose horse reached level 34 at around 6:15pm, recruited her into the Discipline guild, though he hasn't set her experience gain to 50% yet. Oh, and MistressDomino passed over the 25/27 armour set and crossbow, as well as half a million in gold for a few luxuries. Not that Red went overboard with a big spending spree, she is still wearing the level 1 "Novice" shoes, and the level 6 pants and shirt. When she reached level 15 she replaced the level 1 gloves with a pair of level 20 ones she bought from the armour trader, and she has level 21 shirt and pants ready for the next time she levels up - but the only item that is plussed at all is her level 12 Stern Hood +2, which was dropped by the wandering zombies in Velpist Temple. Red did buy a level 13 crossbow, and later replaced it with a level 17 one.

In Katar-1 and with Elizabeth's Enhancement buff working, Red started with a few more goes for the quest for Merchant Geres, gathering jaguar teeth, and then when level 11 was reached and she was too high for that any more, she headed for Velpist Temple, stopping off at the Mad Monster Spawn spot to get that location onto her scroll. In Velpist Temple she started off over on the right with the wandering zombies, before switching to the straight-ahead option, going upstairs to the old familiar room with the ancient zombies and the berserk zombies - and the red-named skeleton soldiers, which are best avoided at her level.

RedRyder's evening ended with the trip out to Prokion Temple through the Dratan desert. I see that a bug with the map still hasn't been fixed, you can't change the percentage of zoom-in, only the size of the central area of map you can see, so it's just as well I know the direction to take for that trip. In Prokion Temple Red was able to kill a few ghouls, and even a mummy or two, which may still be orange-named at level 19, but move into the attack nice and slowly.

There hadn't been the usual "Storm the Castle" website publicity and event details today, so I assumed that, with Thanksgiving approaching in the USA, they weren't bothering - but as ten approached there were a couple of announcements in-game, and I see that the paragraph had been belatedly added to the November calendar. I don't know if the early Auzura one actually took place, but the others seem to have run. I was just able to log Barbarienne in and teleport down to Merac Castle on Cariae-4 at about 10:05pm, UK time, and things were under way, but it was obvious that GM Kali was just pushing a few buttons and going through the motions, not interacting or listening, and there can't have been more than a couple of dozen people there, already fighting cube guards and assassin quanians plus a few cave spirits. And the number of course included people from level 20 to 40 or so, as well as those who could make a more useful contribution.

I guess the lack of advance publicity, and the knowledge from last week that the event was now impossibly hard and dangerous, had taken its toll - by the time the rote "Out of time - Good Try, Guys!" announcement came up, I don't think more than 10% of the monsters had been killed, we hadn't progressed past the gateway into the inner courtyard, which, given the lack of high-level fighters, was probably just as well. I'd passed more people, definitely of higher levels, at the Randol arena on the way to the teleporter.

We stayed and fought a few more cube guards of the type that bounce up and down frenziedly, and a couple of assassin quanians, but after that, I made my excuses and left - those guys tended to miss me most of the time when I ended up tanking them, but when they did hit, they hit hard. I don't think the gold I picked up covered the cost of the health pots I had to use, but at least Barbarienne went up by 0.06%, and a skill point. Yesterday's adventure in the Tomb saw her add 0.69% and 8 skill points, plus 2715 pet points, which were enough to get Barb's reindeer pet into level 38.

ColonelScarlet had been making steady progress at pet-levelling all evening, so that the pet horse passed 40% of the way through level 34 by the end of the evening. Once this pale blue horse reaches level 37, it will go across to Kaerella, and the white horse will move to MistressDomina. And then RedRyder will be wanting a mount too, I guess...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

An Early Finish

Both ColonelScarlet and RedRackham logged on at breakfast time for a little peaceful pet-levelling with either berserkers or bandits, and the Colonel's pale blue horse reached level 32 at coffee time - at that stage, Red's horse still had about five hours work to go before the magic level 37 would be reached.

I managed to fit in an hour with a platinum super skill pill for Kaerella on Katar-4 in Prokion Temple; after a while I settled into ignoring the Orc Sergeants entirely, so that I had all five of them following me around but, thanks to the armour and the 5% suction of life accessory, not managing to do me any harm. With the pssp for triple skill exp, and a 50% freeze on experience gain, the Axemen were giving me 16500 skill exp and 6419 experience, while the Sergeants were giving 14850 and 9485; since the more skill points I can get per level the better, the Axemen were definitely the better bet. By the end of the hour I'd gone up another 31.66%, a pretty similar amount to the previous two hours in level 27, and added 393 more skill points; Kae's drake had moved along nicely too, reaching level 24.

Back in town there was time to look at the "Potions" category of Trading Agent Roy's merchant house; since it became possible to trade them for the first time with the new patch, there were a lot of super skill pills for sale; they give double skill exp for an hour, which isn't as good as the platinum version's treble, but still useful. They seemed to be mainly 3 or 4 million each, but I managed to buy four for 4 million, put up for sale by JayLeno; they ought to come in handy at about level 34 I guess.

RedRackham logged in for some lunchtime pet-levelling, but when he arrived at the berserker spot, there was a Pandora's Box there - which when opened, unleashed a level 50 Pandora Beast. So, Red discreetly logged out, and Cariae's Kaerella rode down to deal with it. The Beast dropped 55,200 gold, which made Kae's trip worthwhile.

The afternoon started with another pssp hour for Kaerella in Katar-4's Prokion Temple; this time she managed not to kill any Orc Sergeants at all, just Orc Axemen; 27.30% experience gain got her well into level 28, where the experience per Axeman dropped by 5%, and the skill exp dropped by 10%, but the ratio of skill exp to experience remained a lot better than the Sergeants would have given. 395 skill points were earned, and 1063 pet points.

Doing some shopping in Katar-1, I found a healer called LIVIA selling platinum super skill pills for 3 million each, so bought eight, which was all I could afford. After that, there was just time for RedRyder to have a short session on Katar-1 using Elizabeth's buff; she got up to level 8, and, after getting Merchant Geres the jaguar teeth for his necklace for the first time, had just enough skill points to get the last level of the passive skill Reinforce, increasing her physical attack. The jaguars were kind enough to drop a Hand of the Warrior, with its heaven stone, which is always good to see.

The evening session started with the Auzura Mad Monster Spawn at its regular 5:00pm time, as far as the UK is concerned. Rage went along, and things were just starting when Zenderfly got in touch with ColonelScarlet, and, hearing what I was up to, created a healer on Auzura specially - Merun, like her Night Shadow. She ran straight from the starter dungeon to the MMS location, and I traded some memory scrolls across to her, which was a good idea as she did die a time or two, in the starter armour, so needed to use them to return to the location. By the end she had gone up from level 2 to level 17; I did ask if she was intending to do any work on the character, in which case I'd pass some money across for armour etc, but she said no.

Despite sharing party experience with Merun, Rage managed to add 2.04%, which isn't bad, and she didn't die there, which was good - she was stunned once by a Fluton's flamethrower skill, but luckily it didn't follow up its attack. The only bad thing about the MMS was that the drops were poor, instead of the usual piles of hands up along a ridge, there were rather fewer piles in towards the middle, so I didn't get much, though a monster or two did drop some gold for me at least.

Zen had been wanting to level up her witch Damor from 89, so we went to Cariae-1's Tomb of Theos. Barbarienne ran down to the first room with the level 106 Anubis Spear Men, and Damor used a teleport scroll to join her; she then used party recall to get Keerella to join us. All Kee had to do was stand in a safe spot with my cat-style pet, SkrappY, equipped, as part of the combat party (and a necessary one as Damor and Barb were more than ten levels apart). Barb had to target an Anubis Spear Man, and then when its health was down to about 5% take a recall to Damor, and then start attacking the next one.

Damor borrowed Kee's staff, but didn't have a full armour set - whatever she was wearing reminded me of Princess Leia in the "slave girl" costume - and so had to be a bit careful, but things worked fine. Damor supplied Barbarienne with a crit potion and a mana stealer, though Barb uses so few skills that the latter was hardly necessary. The first hour did so well that Damor decided to slow things down in hour two, with me not using a crit, and her using only a few experience boosters instead of one on each kill. She got into level 90 easily, but didn't want to reach the top of that level as yet. Her Night Shadow Merun joined us for the second hour, occasionally fighting but mostly standing near Kee, just helping to boost the combat party bonus.

When her task was done Damor left - with Damor now the same level as Merun, she could get a red name, and then he could kill her and get a blue name and the "hunter" title - at least, that is how I understand it. We had partied with another Night Shadow called GRITS, since he was in the same room and the combat party boost helps everyone, and Barbarienne continued there for a little while, though Keerella went back to the start, via recall, to get her staff back and get some items from Damor which she wanted traded across to Zenderfly.

Kee logged out, and then back in in Randol for the trade with Zen, and we managed to remember every item between us, though for some weird reason the medium experience elixirs which Damor had traded across to Keerella, Keerella couldn't trade across to Zenderfly - she couldn't even drop them. Oh well, they aren't exactly valuable, so Zen didn't mind leaving them with Kee.

A couple of red-named Night Shadows in the TheChaoticLegion guild turned up in Barb's Tomb room, GenxThexNub and CantTouchDis, and killed GRITS, who was in a corner afk at the time - and then killed me too. I didn't resist, being interested to see what skills were used. It was useful to find out that a resurrection scroll now has a five minute countdown, so isn't much use for, for example, afk pet-levellers. "You are dead. Do you want to use an order of resurrection experience recovery? If cancelled, you will move to the resurrection point. (Automatically move after time expires.) Remaining Time: 4 min 59 sec"

I respawned up at the start, and decided to kill a few screaming zombies there, to finish the session. The red-named duo did turn up back there, but didn't get very far attacking a titan who was zombie-farming. I'm no expert on PvP, but I possibly one-hitted at least one of them when they attacked me again.

The regular weekly maintenance was brought forward a few hours, presumably to give the technicians more time before the end of their working day, and I logged out a few minutes ahead of that. ColonelScarlet logged out with a few minutes to spare too; he'd not had a long evening session, taking over the older computer from Keerella, but he did manage to get the pale blue horse into level 33. The servers presumably went down a few minutes before ten o'clock, UK time, which was when the US "Mad Monster Spawns" were scheduled to begin. Oops...

Monday, 23 November 2009

A Definite Enhancement

There were apparently two maintenance downtimes while I was asleep, so that some of the bugs, at least, are now fixed - and the developers decided that it was probably a Night Shadow skill called "Soul Injection" which was causing the disconnections, so that has been temporarily disabled. As well as hopefully fixing the account lock-ins, lag, and the log-in problems some people were having, good old-fashioned click-to-move should now be working once again in the guild halls and quiz hall, production tool endurance should show up on equipped tools, people shouldn't be able to name new characters "[GM]Brilliant" etc, and a Night Shadow skill trainer should turn up in Randol. So, quite a few more bugs remain, but at least it's a start.

ColonelScarlet and RedRackham managed to log in for some pet levelling at breakfast time, and went through the morning without any more disconnections, which was a promising sign; the final disconnection last night rolled back the pet experience points by 173, I noticed.

After lunch, it seemed relatively safe to start farming those skill points for Kaerella on Katar, so I headed for Prokion Temple on Katar-4. It looks as if the server stability problem hasn't been entirely overcome, though, as I was kicked out at 3:36pm UK time, and had to log Kae and ColonelScarlet, who was providing the solo party boost, back in. Katar-4 was listed as "maintenance" when Kae logged in, so I went for the other non-PvP sub-server, Katar-5, and luckily the back room there was similarly available - though someone had been in there recently enough for some gold to be on the ground, and for one of the orcs to have less than 50% health.

During the first uninterrupted hour, using a platinum super skill pill and a platinum skill pill, Kaerella got through 144 skill point boosters, and added 31.78% experience and 1231 skill points. Orc Axemen, using a spb, gave 7.7 skill points each, so killing 144 of them contributed 1109 skill points, while killing 70 Orc Sergeants without a booster, giving 1.7325 skill points each, contributed the rest.

As the second hour was interrupted by the disconnection and presumably some kind of rollback, the figures were slightly different, but as 160 boosters were used, killing 160 Orc Axemen, 1226 skill points should have been got from them (the pssp and psp wore off before the 160th was actually dead); the total gain for the second hour was 1307 skill points, so in theory only 47 Orc Sergeants got killed. That may be about right, as I did tend to ignore a Sergeant or two attacking me, and concentrate on killing the Axemen.

So, after the two hour session Kaerella had amassed 2538 skill points, and gone up by 61.30%. A third "power hour" would theoretically be possible at level 27, but it seems best just to use pssps until Kae reaches level 29 and can use her level 33 +15 bow, and use a psp as well, for its 50% extra skill exp boost beyond the 200% extra the pssp gives then. I might even try and get some more skill point boosters, since then it will be the Sergeants' turn to give the maximum 5500 skill exp each, as I'll be their level.

ColonelScarlet did get ks'd once, by the knight MrBicepsas. When I said "ks-er :(" his response was "plz money - plz money and I'm no ks", so I used a memory scroll to move from that position down to the Gnoll Lancers. And Zenderfly did attempt to get in touch - I'd probably have noticed if she'd used the Friends List system to open a messenger window, but she just typed in the guild channel, so that ColonelScarlet had the text at the bottom left, She said she would be back "at full hour", but I came back from preparing food in time for that, and stuck around for five minutes, and she didn't appear. i checked at ten past, too, and there was still nothing - and when I got back at a quarter past, there was another "Kee?" - but she'd logged off again.

So that I'd be easy to contact, I decided to give the Cariae Kaerella a session out in Dratan desert again, this time on Cariae-1 so that I could use the "Elizabeth's Enhancement" buff for double experience and skill exp, and a boost to attack power as well. There was no further sign of activity from Zen, so I was just chatting with HarD, who was doing a couple of monster combos, so I stayed there until the three-hour buff wore off; initially there wasn't a solo party to join, but eventually one was formed - the game "ran out of memory" on me when I attempted to return to Randol, though, so I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. In all Kae went up by 17.09%, which really moves her along through level 49 - and 107 skill points makes a great addition to her current store. 1502 pet points got added, too - by my calculations 4.36% of the current level for SirFrancis, taking him to 33.72% of the way through level 47.

ColonelScarlet did have a disconnection again at seven o'clock, but soon got back into action; his pale blue horse moved past the halfway point in level 31 as the evening progressed, and ought to reach two-thirds by log-out time. RedRackham was able to put in a little more time, too, moving his horse a little further through level 36.

I did however take 20 minutes to start a rogue on Katar-1; the names Karella and RedRider were already taken, so this one is RedRyder. I went to Katar-1 so that Elizabeth could apply her buff, and it worked nicely - Healer Yabo's three early quests all gave skill points as well as experience, and having the buff on doubled those. It was interesting to see the new character choosing and creation screen, too, which has a new spooky background, and does include the Night Shadow in the line-up, although with a note about the level 100 requirement. It is possible to rotate the character too, which is useful for comparing hairstyles, but you can't move in close enough, as far as I could tell, to see the faces very well.

In twenty minutes RedRyder zoomed up to level 7, going at double speed with Elizabeth's buff - or more than double speed, as it didn't just double the experience, and skill exp, per kill, it enhanced her attack, so that the kills were quicker. Making the early levels easier this way is a good idea, and she still has the "beginner" resurrection scrolls, pssps, and pbis to help her along too, valid up to level 35. Apparently the Night Shadow gets them too, though as he starts at level 90 they aren't really much use for him.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A Welcome Disconnection

Things still seemed a bit bleak in Last Chaos on Sunday morning. ColonelScarlet had had one final disconnection last night, but did manage to get back in and move the horse on to its next level before logging out, so that was something.

It being a Sunday, RedRackham and ColonelScarlet logged in a little later than usual; their slowed-down attack animation still looks strange, but all went okay up to coffee time, and we have confirmed that the actual gathering of pet points hasn't been slowed.

I had been contemplating starting the power skill point farming, at level 27, of either Katar's Kaerella or Cariae's Enchantrella in Prokion Temple, since Sunday morning isn't a particularly busy time there, but in the end, given the uncertain times we are living in now, I opted for sending Rage out on Auzura-4, back to the Sphinx types. This time it was my mage MistressDomina who went with her - and as she is only level 61, the party had to be equal rather than combat, meaning a bit less experience for Rage, and a bit more for MD - though a lot more experience and skill exp for Rage than if she was there solo.

There was a disconnection at around 10:40, UK time, though, so it was lucky I wasn't on a pot-using character - the "don't use pots" warning still applied. Rage was fighting an Elite Sphinx Speer Man at the time, but had only lost a little health, I found when I logged both characters back in.

I continued until about 11:30, and then decided that it was time to read the Sunday paper and prepare for lunch. Rage had at least reached the 60% point in level 72, after adding 1.46% experience; both she and MistressDomina had gained 7 skill points. MD had added 3.64% experience, so not a big deal, though it's a while since she added anything. Since she must have one of the biggest reserves of skill points of any of my characters, currently just over 22,000, I really ought to develop her a bit more.

RedRackham and ColonelScarlet took over the computers for an extended lunch break with the Berserkers, and only the Colonel, on Katar-4, got a disconnection, which seems a better than average score. Red got his horse two-thirds of the way through level 35; the Colonel only lost 41 pet points from the dc "rollback". For some reason the older computer's log-in screen still showed each server as having a singly non-PvP sub-server, its third, although the true situation, as shown on the newer computer, is that the third is a "Raid" one, while the fourth and the fifth are the non-PvP places to go.

I caught up on some newspaper-reading and other downstairs stuff, before Galahad, my level 34 royal knight on Auzura, logged in and headed for Prokion Temple; finding the back room free, RedRider, my level 26 rogue, went to join him and formed a combat party. I had to be fairly prompt with my log-out for food, so Gal only added 9.23% and 58 skill points, while Red added 6.66% and 56 skill points.

Logging in with Kaerella on Cariae after the break, I was just in time for the projected 5:00pm rendezvous with Damor and Zenderfly - only to find a message saying "possible power-levelling session at 10 am your time - be ready :)" - oh well, I was only seven hours late. But I assume that, given the possibility of disconnections and the continuing advice not to use pots, Zen had decided against it... if it had gone ahead, she would have been able to contact me via ColonelScarlet I suppose.

Kaerella stayed around on Cariae for a while, in case Damor logged in, and added 0.88% experience, 5 skill points, and 177 pet points. And over on Katar-4 ColonelScarlet had a disconnection, and lost 183 pet points, which for him is over ten minute's worth.

One thing I hadn't investigated was the new non player character in Randol, Elizabeth, and her "enhancements for new players" - double experience, skill exp and attack (both magical and physical) for three hours, it seems. One of the many bugs means that she is only present on each server's first sub-server at present. The attack buff doesn't seem as good as advertised, it just increased my archer Karanne's physical attack stat, at level 24, from 200 to 240, but the experience and skill exp was doubled, and while logging out ended the buff, teleporting to Dratan and on to Prokion Temple was okay. It actually doubled the experience and skill exp reward from completing a quest, too, which may not have been intended. So, unless they get Elizabeth to appear in all the sub-servers in person, rather than just being shown on the town map, those first sub-servers could get a bit busy. Apparently Elizabeth's Enhancement is available right up to level 60; I wonder if it "stacks" with the boosters from the item mall?

One bug we had been told about was that in guild halls, one could only move around using the new WASD key system - so really it was no big surprise to find that the quiz rooms, which are really designed as a larger version of a guild hall, had the same problem. As well as the Episode 2 bugs, some of the sub-servers were in trouble - people who'd been logged in to Katar-3 had been kicked out last night, but were still theoretically connected there, and thus unable to log in elsewhere. Usually Aeria's techie people solve this within an hour, but this time, fearing damage to the data, it continued all today, to the great annoyance of some shoutbox visitors, not surprisingly. Aeria want input from the developers in South Korea before doing anything drastic.

Katar 3, 4 and 5, by the time the Sunday Quiz rolled around, were all in deep trouble - and sub-server 2, where I'd intended to go, wasn't opening its quiz room doors either, so Kaerella and MistressDomino had to move across to Katar-1 - as only two out of the six Katar quiz rooms were working, it was a bit crowded. With a little advice I was able to open "options" and click the "enter chat" box, so that my WSAD keys were enabled. After a little experimentation, I soon worked out that pointing Kae in the right direction, and pressing W, was the way to go.

Luckily, MistressDomino was able to click on Kae and follow her this time, and, while the lag meant that MD was a bit slow to follow, we made it through safely to the end, even though around half the people got booted on question 18, concerning Krash and the Old Skool Treasure (or "Teasure") hunt. MD logged out and RedRackham logged back in for a while - but when he got another disconnection, for me today's pet-levelling was over.

Kaerella logged in on Katar-2 again for a few minutes, in the hope that Ratel would get in touch as planned, but the server trouble must have put paid to that idea. There were still a few long-suffering people standing by the domain merchant on Katar-2, hoping that the quiz room doors would open for them...

But, once I'd disabled WSAD, it was time for the usual Zombie Invasions of beautiful downtown Berbank Mill, starting with Auzura. I decided to live dangerously and take Rage along - and dangerous it was occasionally. We missed the deadline to kill all the zombies and apes, and trying to pick up the loot spawned then was just too risky, though Rage did get an item drop booster and a skill point booster before her health got rather low, and she had to run for it. I'd been recruited into a party with the level 14 "iownyou2", who was level 16 by the end, and the level 36 titan Atrius; we all continued to clear the place out, which in all took 40 minutes, twice as long as it should. Rage did actually get a heaven stone dropped by an ape she killed.

Kaerella was late for the Katar event, then, but it was still in full swing when she got to the Mill, and she started to join in - but within a minute she got disconnected. I logged back in, and was among the first people to get back there - after [GM]Krash, though. The zombies too had been disconnected, so, he decided, we'd won, and generous amounts of hands of bravery, hands of protection, and hands of the guard were spawned. So, with not too many people back yet, Kaerella was able to get a good amount of loot.

When my level 101 archer Barbarienne got to Berbank Mill on Cariae-2, the event had already started, a few minutes early; it was nice to see the monsters white-named rather than red, anyway, and I joined in, tanking a few apes and a screaming zombie or two, and generally making sure only to be the long-range artillery assistance with the ancient screaming zombie boss-types. We didn't beat the deadline, but Barb was at least able to pick up items even with zombies in the area, and once that bit of hoovering was done, we didn't take long to finish clearing the area. Despite the many kills Barb had made or greatly assisted with, all the experience only added up to 0.04%; Rage, on the other hand, had added a useful 2.11%.

And then it was time to log out for the night; with the continuing disconnections, it certainly wasn't worth trying to set up any more pet-levelling.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Don't Start Any Pots...

I'd left the newer computer on overnight, even without Last Chaos running, to help the Carbonite backup catch up - but when I switched the older one on, it couldn't find an internet connection, the Last Chaos launcher immediately reported it couldn't connect. My broadband supplier has a little program that automatically appears on such occasions, but after humouring that I just switched the modem off for a few minutes, and did a system restore to yesterday (mainly to undo the changes that the TalkTalk program had made) - and things worked.

So, it was after breakfast by the time I transferred a Pet Mount Retraining Card across to Karella to use on her level 35 white horse; she used that, and then exchanged it for a level 37 one with RedRackham. He went off to start levelling the 35-er up to 37, and Karella made the level 37 one into her new mount.

As had happened with Barbarienne's purple horse, un-mounting this one did cause it to lose its colour, but I'm sure I have plenty of pet colouring crystals around.

As it happened, Zenderfly's new Night Shadow, Merun, was in Randol, and briefly formed a party with SirDarth as he was passing the retraining card to Karella; he got added to Merun's friends list too, as did RedRackham a few minutes later. Merun seemed very low in health, so must have been out adventuring already.

Just after Red started pet-levelling, Merun did offer me "a unique chance to get to Moonshine", the new map that's only designated for people who are level 140 or more, but unfortunately I needed to go out shopping. Apparently, although they shouldn't work, at present a party recall card will take any character to Moonshine, not just characters who are level 140 or over.

Later, after coffee, I did some moving around of items, which mainly resulted in moving some accessories, and medals of honour, out of Rage's inventory, across to LordElpus; loot drops like item drop boosters got moved across to Auzura's MistressDomino. These things always take longer than expected, but there was time to take Rage out to the Sphinx Fighters, Sphinx Speer Men, and of course the Elite Sphinx Speer Man. As she is level 72 to their level 63 or 64, the experience gain was not great - but bringing MrChuckNorris, my level 62 titan, out to join her in a Combat party boosted the experience per kill roughly eight-fold, and increased the skill exp by about 50% as well.

The sphinx types went down very easily, and Rage only used two small health potions throughout the session. As it was a Combat party Chuck's experience gain was minor, but he and Rage each gained 11 skill points, and Rage got 3.31% experience, taking her past the halfway mark in her level.

I was just getting ready to log off for lunch when Ratel got in touch, asking if he could borrow three lucky smelting stones and six chaos smelting stones, as he'd got a blue, five-seal sword, and wanted to "plus it up". I assume he had got it to +3 with ordinary smelting stones or heaven stones, and didn't want to take even the slightest risk of breaking it; he'll have got an extreme stone for the final step, to +13.

That did delay me a little, but MistressDomino had got plenty of lucky smelting stones in storage, and there was a pack of five chaos smelting stones on that account that I hadn't previously downloaded, so she was able to pass the three and six across. Ratel promises to replace them as soon as he can; I can't think of anyone else I'd trust like that - well, Zen I guess, though she would be very unlikely to need to make such a request.

ColonelScarlet did get a disconnection over lunch, which I think may have been a general Katar thing rather than just him - the pale blue horse reached level 28 just before that, though I think the disconnection did "roll back" the pet points by about 120. RedRackham didn't have any interruption over on Cariae, so managed to get his horse up to a quarter of the way through level 35. Meanwhile, the forum thread on the bugs brought in with Episode 2 had reached page thirty.

The afternoon session included one disconnection at 2:45 UK time, so a low-risk strategy did seem best. Ratel mentioned getting disconnected in the Tomb of Theos three times, which got expensive, earlier. I took Rage and MrChuckNorris back to the Sphinx types, and by the end of the afternoon Chuck was up 2.27%, Rage was up 5.75%, and they had each added 19 skill points.

During the late afternoon food break Zenderfly got in touch with ColonelScarlet, and her level 2 titan has now been officially recruited into the Discipline guild - not that she plans to level him up, but it will be handy when she wants to contact me, since as well as the Colonel, MistressDomino my Katar mage is a member. Zenderfly had a cunning plan to level Damor up, I think it is something to do with getting the night shadow Merun a blue name, so arrangements were made to team up once I was back in action.

Zen did get in touch at the appointed time, to say that she was nearly ready - but twenty minutes later the message came up that to address some server problems, the servers would be "reset" in ten minutes, so before long it was time for both ColonelScarlet and RedRackham to log out.

The reset took about twenty minutes, and when he came into the shoutbox to tell us the servers were back up, Aeria ks1lent also advised us not to use pots at present, as there was a possibility of a further reset, or disconnection. So, when Zenderfly was back online, we agreed that this evening wasn't a good time for levelling Damor, which will apparently involve Damor and Keerella in a combat party, while Barbarienne, Zenderfly, and a friend of hers do some serious monster-mashing. Zen is thinking in terms of starting at around 5:00pm tomorrow, so I'll need to be pretty prompt with the start of my food break then.

I took Katar's MistressDomino out to Prokion Temple, and she went up by 44.56% in level 22, mainly fighting ghouls and mummies, since they give a good ratio of skill exp to regular experience, with the occasional passing orc soldier thrown in. 152 skill points were earned, and then back in town I spent them all, and the 18 MD had started with. That got a few more skills to their top level, though I see a fifth level of one skill I have still to get will need 151 all on its own.

There were no disconnections during that time, at least on the Katar server; I logged out half an hour early, to try out another Aeria game that I'd had an invitation to the "closed beta" of, Grand Fantasia... it seemed to be aimed at fairly young players, really, at least it all seemed a bit complicated to me. Where was the house I could furnish, that they mentioned - and where was the mining area I could send my sprite off to? Oh well, I fought and defeated quite a number of jelly rabbits, which has to count for something...

When I emerged from that, I noticed that ColonelScarlet had suffered a disconnection on Katar-4, so moved him over to the newer computer. His horse should get to level 29 by the time I sign off for the night, though with disconnections and resets lurking, it doesn't seem worth trying any overnight work. Katar-3 apparently had a "lock-in" type crash at around the same time, where people may be dumped out, but their account is still read as logged in, so they can't connect anywhere else. GM OgreKing bravely ventured into the shoutbox, and before being submerged in people asking why, with a level 90 character, they couldn't start a night shadow, said that they were waiting for word from the South Korean developers about that particular problem.

Ah well, let us hope things have smoothed down tomorrow.

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Morning After

We are certainly living in interesting times, after the mammoth patch last night - a lot of the game just isn't working properly today, though an emergency maintenance at around 9:20 this morning did put a few things right. Aeria's poor product manager, Aeriaks1lent, is left with egg on his face, as people gently enquire how so many dumb things could have escaped the attention of the GMs and gamesages when they tested things out on the beta server, but most of it probably isn't his fault, it's those wacky developers over in South Korea who have demonstrated rather low levels of care and competence.

It turns out that, for "game balancing" reasons, the devs changed the level requirement to create a NightShadow from 90 to 100, leaving the games masters blithely spouting the wrong information; some stuff, such as skill point costs of skills, have apparently defaulted to the original Korean game's higher numbers, and weird things like event weapons suddenly not being transferable have hit us. Pots are behaving strangely, with either their colourful animations continuing after use or no repeat use allowed. The WASD keys sometimes move one's character, and sometimes don't - and typing them when using messenger chat or merchant mart apparently causes you to move about too. Some seals on items aren't working, and character stats for evasion etc seem to have changed for some classes. Items that one should not be able to trade, such as party recall cards and berserker potions, can now be traded freely. Some people can't log in without getting an error message. And so it goes.

ColonelScarlet did manage to log in before breakfast, though at that stage there was only one non-PvP sub-server per server; I think he is managing to pet-level okay, and by lunchtime the pale blue horse reached level 26, but the Colonel's fighting animation is a lot slower than usual. He had to log out for the emergency maintenance at 9:20, UK time, but was able to return half an hour later, with a new patch to download.

Assuming that I do want to try a NightShadow, one thing I needed to do today was delete a character from the same account as Barbarienne over on Cariae, so I logged on as the Cariae version of the titan MrChuckNorris, and transferred most of his stuff, and the guild master position of the one-man guild Ironic, across to the healer NoWurries. One of the stupid bugs/changes presented itself, though, as I found that his event weapon could not be traded, or put into storage. It couldn't even be dropped or put up for sale with Roy! So I had to take a screenshot of that, and put a post into the "bug report" thread for Episode 2 on the forum. So, while everything else has been moved out, when the 24 hours grace end, poor Chuck will vanish, and take that sword with him. Luckily his incarnation over on Auzura should still be fit and healthy; the Cariae one never did anything beyond getting to level 20.

I didn't want to risk a main character this afternoon, particularly with people reporting that things like health potions were not always working, so my level 8 healer over on Katar, Barbarienne, had a session, mainly killing jaguars. Merchant Geres has a quest for collecting jaguar teeth, which is repeatable, and one addition I am in favour of is that the rewards for that quest now include 2 skill points, as well as 500 gold and some experience. However, other minor quests I did didn't have any skill points involved. Staying on the positive side, just a "mouse over" of one's inventory shows the details of an item, you don't have to click to select it first... and items of armour, and presumably weapons, people sell in merchant mode seem now to include the line about "able to use an extreme stone", though this may not be 100% infallible.

Barbarienne went down into Merac to visit ColonelScarlet, to get a little gold and also three accessories to add a little to her attack and evasion, and was then able to buy some better armour. Since Barb got the errand quest from Lorraine to visit Bant in Dratan, she ran out to Prokion Temple while she was on that map, and got that location onto her memory scroll.

By the end of the afternoon, Barb had got halfway through level 9 - and ColonelScarlet had moved past the halfway point in level 26 for his horse.

After the early evening food break, it was time for Kaerella on Cariae to go back out to the giants; I don't know if it was a bug, but the solo party I applied to join never responded. There was a disconnection, but I was just standing in a safe place, out of reach of the locals, checking my email at the time. When I logged back in, and HarD, who I'd been chatting to also reconnected, she kindly gave me a solo party, which improved things - but it wasn't to be a long session, as Damor logged in. By then, Kae had just added 0.78%, 5 skill points, and 159 pet points.

Damor had made a Night Shadow, and suggested a team-up with Barbarienne for the Tomb, so I went there, entered, and the Night Shadow, Merun, used a book of teleport to join me there. We weren't over-ambitious, we stayed at the start and fought screaming zombies, rather than rushing further in to find some bosses, and things worked okay, though as Damor, er Zenderfly, um Merun, hadn't yet plussed his armour, Barb did sometimes end up doing more healing than archery.

The NS skills did look rather cool, I must say, with purple beams of magic - and Merun at one stage told me to stop attacking one zombie, as he had made it his slave. And indeed, it did attack other zombies for us, though it was slightly difficult to make sure I didn't target our helper. The lighting in the Tomb isn't too good in places, but I think Merun's "slave" had a purplish tinge, which helped.

However, before long we both got disconnected, which is a shame when one has paid 303,000 gold to get in... and Merun hadn't had a chance to add the entrance's location to his memory scroll. Barb had added 0.25% experience since the last time I'd noted it down, but a monster spawn or zombie invasion may well have happened since then. Still, 3 more skill points probably came mainly from the zombies, and the 30 pet points would definitely have done.

Merun still had me as a party member when he logged back in; Night Shadows actually spawn in Egeha rather than Randol, so he decided to go off and do some work there. While the opening skills don't cost any skill points, Merun will, apparently, need 900 at level 93, which means some heavy-duty sp farming. He told me that a new Night Shadow comes with ten golden magnifying glasses in his inventory, as his starting armour needs to have its seals identified, which is a nice touch.

Kaerella then logged in over on Katar, and while I checked the forums, and indeed worked on this blog report, did some mining. One bug, out of the many, that had been mentioned on the forums was that mining hammers now have not 7200 endurance, but 0 - but this didn't stop mining an ore vein from producing the regular number of quality, imperfect and flawed stones. And after that, Barbarienne on Katar went out to the jaguars a couple more times, and got up to level 10; she also ran out to the Mad Monster Spawn location, to add that to her memory scroll.

The good points of this massive addition of extra content seem to be, as I mentioned, that you can see if a weapon or piece of armour someone is selling in merchant mode has had an extreme stone used on it, and that moving one's mouse over something on sale or in one's own inventory brings up the full description without having to click on it. And, um, some quests give a skill exp reward. That's about it.

Now that I know that there are no new low-level special skills to learn, Katar's Kaerella will be free to start power sp farming, but that wasn't really an option today, with pots not always working and disconnections stalking around. An unscheduled maintenance is, it seems, tentatively scheduled for later this evening, so there won't be any overnight pet-levelling again - though, even with his slower attack animation, ColonelScarlet should have got the horse past the halfway mark in level 27 by then.

Ah well, a "Morning After" does tend to bring its own headaches.